April 2020 — pg. 20
urfmYou are the church
In the article titled “!e Lord Is His Shepherd” (available
online at fmchr.ch/heritagemm), Pesta recounted how
Munyakuri, a native of what is now the Democratic Republic of
Congo, “escaped a childhood of war, in which he was snatched
up to serve as a child soldier for rebel groups — three times.
Twice he was forced to $ght; the third time, he refused to pick
up a gun.” Pesta noted that Munyakuri “could have emerged
a furious person. Instead, he changed his fate. He became a
pastor and now runs his own church in Rochester, where he
welcomes other immigrants and refugees.”
Pesta also interviewed Bishop Linda Adams who served as
the pastor of New Hope Free Methodist Church in Rochester,
New York, when Munyakuri and his family, who were Free
Methodists in the Congo, moved to the United States 13 years
ago and learned of New Hope from a taxi driver. Adams recalled
how Munyakuri translated a message from his father, “We are
orphans. We have no mother, no father, no motherland, no
fatherland. !e Free Methodist Church is our family, and you
are our mother.’”
Adams also described Munyakuri as a “prayer warrior” who
“would come and pray for eight hours at a time, processing
what he had been through, crying, praying, sometimes
!ere’s more to Munyakuri’s powerful life story that hasn’t
been published previously. In a recent interview with LIGHT
+ LIFE, Munyakuri shared more about what has happened
since his initial abduction and about his role as the founding
pastor of El Shaddai Free Methodist Church.
Seeing and Praying
!e lyrics for the hymn “Amazing Grace” have a literal
meaning for Munyakuri — particularly “I once was lost, but
now am found, was blind, but now I see.”
One aspect of his life that hasn’t been reported is the physical
healing he experienced following the bodily damage of the
intense brutality he experienced.
“When I was captured by the militias in Congo, when they
cut me with machetes, they hit me in my eyes, and my eyes were
bleeding, and I became blind for almost $ve years,” Munyakuri
told LIGHT + LIFE. “My blind eyes led me to Christ.”
A doctor instructed Munyakuri to drink $ve gallons of
water every day, which he did faithfully without a change.
“Nothing happened, so I said, ‘I need God. I need something
that maybe will heal me,’” he recalled.
He started attending church, accepted Jesus Christ and
decided to fast for two weeks.
“I keep praying. Nothing happens, and then one day I
walk through the church,” Munyakuri said. “!e pastor was
preaching, and he started talking about somebody who was
blind in the church, and he said, ‘God is going to touch you,
and God is going to heal your eyes.’”
Munyakuri said he closed his le# eye and moved his hand
across his right eye, which had been completely blind. To his
surprise, he saw his hand.
He told a friend in the church, “I’m no longer blind. I’m
healed,” but the friend didn’t believe him. !e friend covered
the other eye and asked Munyakuri to read the Bible with his
right eye. !e friend then said, “For real, you’ve been healed.”
Munyakuri noti$ed the pastor that he had been healed, and
the pastor handed him the microphone to tell the congregation
of his healing.
“From that day forward, I loved prayer, because it makes a
di"erence, and nothing can stop your prayers,” he said. “When
you pray, it may take a long time to happen, but God will
deliver in His own time.”
Munyakuri’s restored eyesight wasn’t the only healing
he received. He also was supposed to have his right hand
amputated at one point, but he declined the amputation.
“I kept praying, ‘God, will you bring a doctor who’s going to
heal my right hand rather than taking it o"?’”
He $nally met another doctor who said, “I don’t want anyone
else to touch this man. I’m going to just be the one taking care
of him.” Munyakuri added, “He did all he could. He saved my
right hand, but that was through prayer.”
As Adams told Pesta, prayer is key to who Munyakuri is.
“If there is no prayer in my life, I won’t be the person that I
am today,” he said. “I’ll be lost. Prayer helps me $rst connect
He follows the call to personal prayer found in Matthew 6:6.
“I take some time alone where nobody else sees me, where
nobody will clap hands for me, when I go in my secret room
and I pray with just God who sees me and hears my word and
takes it,” he said. “It makes me develop my relationship with
God. When I’m praying alone, it’s just me and God.”
Prayer has helped him through the di&culties of his life.
Munyakuri “could have
emerged a furious
person. Instead, he
changed his fate.”